How nudging consumers can make your marketing strategies more effective

According to Richard Thaler – winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize for Economics – a nudge is “any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behaviour in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives.” Firms often apply nudge theory to marketing scenarios as a low cost method of shaping consumer behaviour. As individuals we are regularly prompted by nudges and the effect of these is often subconscious. In London footprints can be seen on tube escalators to encourage people to stand on the right hand-side and walk on the left.

One particular nudging technique can be seen on hotel and flight booking websites such as who use nudges to suggest scarcity so that people feel pressurised into booking imminently. Messages such as “this hotel is likely to sell out soon” or letting you know how many people are also viewing the same hotel help them to influence bookings.

There are now even websites and apps to help businesses apply nudge theory. Nudgify is one of these such apps. It uses tactics such as social proof which involves nudging people by letting them know how popular a companies products are, offering up messages such as “ten other people are looking at this item right now.”

Even the use of influencers can be seen as nudge marketing – they could also be known as nudgers. Effectively what they do is nudge their followers to purchase a particular item or buy into a particular trend.

Option restriction is another method of nudging consumers. If too many choices are offered to individuals they might become overwhelmed and avoid having to make a decision by not choosing any of the options. If fewer options are offered it can actually have positive implications on product sales and service uptake.

According to Ad Week mirrors are the perfect nudging tool as “sometimes the only nudge we need is a good look at ourselves.” If we can see ourselves we are likely to feel like our own internal dialogue is influencing our decisions rather than a marketing campaign. Mirrors work well as part of campaigns about health, and evidence has shown that they can boost the sales of fruit and vegetables.

Nudge theory is much more official than it might sound and the UK even has its own Nudge Unit which has only recently become independent of the Government. Officially known as the Behavioural Insights Team, they claim to “generate and apply behavioural insights to inform policy, improve public services, and deliver positive results for people and communities.”

However, it is important that nudges are well thought through, otherwise there is a danger of them backfiring for example by coming across as condescending. Making sure that the nudge is transparent will help avoid issues such as this, ensuring that a nudge does not become a shove. So what are you waiting for? Start applying nudge theory today!

Our consumer lifestyle PR team specialises in connecting everyday brands with everyday people across four core sectors; Consumer Lifestyle PRFood PRRetail PR and Sport, Health & Wellbeing PR. More information on these areas of knowledge can be found at